I should say this is in response to the clever rant I have seen on facebook a few too many times. Google sally mcburgerflipper if you want to read it in all it’s mean-spirited, false-choiced, poor-against-poor glory.
I get it.
When you get on a rant against something, and the words come pouring out in a way that is biting and bitter, alliterative and clever, it’s fun. It feels good. It’s intoxicating and self-stroking. Writing and reading those rants is fun. I get it. It’s like all sorts of sins, you get so wrapped up in the wave of feeling good that you forget about the people you’re hurting. You forget your manners. You forget that you’re writing and sharing about real people.
I’m not going to try to change your mind about minimum wage. But I’m also not going to sit quietly while otherwise good people trash, disrespect and condemn people they don’t know. Because I know Sally McBurger-flipper.
My mom worked for minimum wage or close to it until she got too sick to work. She was a real person, a good person. She wasn’t some anonymous, ignorant bad-decision-maker who deserved nothing better than to be poor and struggle. She was a real woman who took care of her kids and grandkids. She looked after her neighbors. She taught her kids to check in on old people and shovel a mailman path.
I know other Sallies as well. They are hard working people doing their best to help their families make ends meet. Battered women trying to start fresh after moving out of a shelter. Older adults who lost their houses to foreclosure or their husbands to cancer and have to go back to work, or work outside the home for the first time. They’re young, single women who have decided abortion is wrong and are trying to raise their child and finish school.
These are real people. Not some convenient, faceless caricature for you to throw under the bus while you throw your lot in with the top 5%. It’s not them or you. It’s them and you.
Those military salaries you found so clever to cite in order to justify minimum wage staying low? What do you think the moms and dads of those young men and women are doing? Some of them are certainly working minimum wage jobs. They’re real people with real troubles. Granted, some of them have made bad decisions. Some make repeated bad decisions. Some struggle with mental health issues.
But why on earth do you feel like it’s ok to speak about them as if they are some sort of faceless parasite? What kind of values system says it’s ok to look down on the working poor as if they’re not humans deserving of consideration?
Why on earth is it ok to pay them less than a living wage for a hard day’s work? These jobs aren’t “designed” for high school kids anymore than agricultural work is “designed” for migrant labor. They’re designed to make money for the business. It is entirely possible to pay a living wage for hard work AND make money for the business and its owners.
There is enough money in this economy for everyone if more of it flows down after it flows up. The problem is people and businesses hoarding cash and relying on government assistance to help their low level employees make ends meet.
Please, try to remember that the people you look down on are somebody’s mom or grandma or grandpa. They’re real, complicated humans who deserve better.